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What was the best movie of 2014?

With 2015 predicted to be a record breaking year for films, albeit mostly due to the inevitable sweep of box office receipts by the upcoming Star Wars comeback, 2014 may have escaped your eyes as a brilliant year for not just franchise instalments, but original films full of new ideas and superb performances.

As it has taken me the best part of half of 2015 to finally feel like I have mostly caught up with the good-looking films of last year, I thought it would be great to compile my Top 10 Films of 2014. Have to admit there are one or two I still haven’t got around to watching, especially Nightcrawler, which is supposed to be brilliant. I just hope my choices don’t give me away as a Marvel fan boy!


Release Date: 20th February

A real puzzler that flew in under the radar and kick-started 2014. Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook are superb as complex characters that drive the story in ways you just don’t see coming. If you like time paradoxes that wind you up and confuse to the point of pushing a HB pencil through your eye, then you will absolutely love this detective-sci-fi mix that leaves you wondering just what you saw. Love it.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Release Date: 26th March

In my opinion simply the best marvel film so far outside of Iron Man. More like a spy thriller than a superhero film, Winter Soldier upped the stakes for the unloved superhero and showed us how best to market ol’ cap. As soon as his boot connects with a bad guy and sends him flying through the air, you know you’re in for a improvement on the First Avenger, with the expert pacing, dialogue and action all coming together achingly well. If you still haven’t seen it yet, then get on it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Release Date: 22nd May

It may be a remake of Terminator 2 and have a ludicrous subtitle, but Days of Future Past in fact felt like a combination of all the great aspects of the X-Men franchise and the sort of darkly-funny-sequel vibe we have learnt to enjoy. Taking X-Men to another level again, Singer’s return to the franchise may not deliver the smoothest plot in the world but simply seemed to resonate with many fans, old and new. Plus Quicksilver was awesome, just a shame he was too overpowered to stay in the film.

Edge of Tomorrow

Release Date: 30th May

My concerning Cruise bromance aside,  Edge of Tomorrow came out of nowhere as one of the best action and sci-fi films seen in years. You would be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t enjoy Cruises’ hilarious transformation from coward to hero, coupled with Blunt’s superb performance as the Full Metal…well you know the rest.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Release Date: 17th July

Even though in some ways I was slightly disappointed with the ambition of Dawn of the Planet of the ApesI cannot deny how important the film is in terms of paving new ground for CGI and motion capture. Plus it has Gary Oldman shouting a lot, which is always good to watch.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Release Date: 31st July

The soundtrack alone is enough to take this quirky entry in the marvel universe into anyone’s Top Ten for 2014. Famous for being full of characters nobody has heard of, Guardians is fun, colourful and full of a great cast and one giant tree-thingy. Not only was it much needed light-refreshment at the time, but Guardians also proved that stick a Marvel logo on, and it will sell, and sell well.

Gone Girl

Release Date: 2nd October

Looking back over David Fincher’s filmography, it is no surprise that his latest film featuring a scarily-ripped Ben Affleck really sent waves through the film world. Rosamond Pike is deliciously messed up as his absent wife and Affleck nails the indifference needed from his character during the investigation. Darkly comic, clever and addictive, if you haven’t got to see it yet, make it next on your list. Just don’t watch it with your mum, probably not a good idea…


Release Date: 22nd October

It is simply a national travesty how many people have not seen this film yet. Probably the most underrated war movie of the twenty first century, Fury is a visceral, compact and brutal film that covers well-tread battlefields but with a whole new cinematic take. Plus it has some of the sickest tank battles that even leaves Saving Private Ryan’s final moments for dead.


Release Date: 2nd November

I have watched Nolan’s sci-fi epic at least five more time since I first reviewed it, with each viewing allowing more “brain time” to absorb a previously unexplored avenue or trope that I hadn’t seen before. It isn’t the most water-tight space expedition in terms of story, but the visual and scientific ambition mixes with an emotional vein that runs through the heart of the movie, making it both ground breaking and audience-dividing all at one. The robots were really cool as well, big Tars fan.


Release Date: 26th December

Yes yes, it may not be as exciting and “awesome” as the big blockbusters we have all been spoilt with recently, and it is no surprise that Birdman has been pushed to the arty peripheral of mainstream cinemas, albeit with an Oscar as a prize. But Keaton’s mindblowing performance alongside an undeniably talented ensemble of supporting cast makes this one of the stand-out films of the last year. It also very inteligently parodies its own place in cinema through Keaton’s character. Well, that’s what I got out of it anyway…

I hope you enjoyed my Top ten movies of 2014, let me know of any I missed!


Gone Girl (2014)

“You two are the most f****d up people I’ve ever met, and I deal with f****d up people for a living.”

David Fincher has added one of the darkest strings to his bow with his newest film Gone Girl.  A delightfully decadent and addictive blend of mystery thriller and dark comedy, the film oozes Fincher’s style in a way not seen since Zodiac and Seven. Fans of his earlier work will be pleased with Gone Girl’s gripping story and the almost endless and ultimately  unnerving character depth.

Beginning with the disappearance of beautiful young woman Amy Dunn, the film moves between the present interrogation of Affleck and his suspicious indifference, and the past, which is drawn from accounts from Amy’s diary and personal narrative. The viewer is drawn cleverly into a subjective account of events, never really sure what, if anything, Affleck is hiding. As the media creates its own conclusions about the disappearance of “Amazing” Amy, the viewer is torn between the truth, and the media’s agenda.

As with all great films, Gone Girl focusses on its characters, as Fincher manipulates our assumptions and fears to ensure the story twists and hides at just the right time. There is always a hidden threat lying beneath the skin of both main characters, as we realise that like everyone else, their identity is formed as much through their own personality, as by everyone’s elses perceptions.

Fincher creates such an infectious sense of realism that permeates all the characters, including a eerily quiet Neil Patrick Harris as the ex-boyfriend. Although Affleck nails the necessary balance between victim and suspect, it is Rosamund Pike, especially in the latter parts of the film whom steals the show. It just wouldn’t be the same without her, and her performance will likely have you feeling several emotions at the same time when the credits roll. What those emotions are will be in the hands of the viewer, as Fincher’s manipulation of us is quite inescapable as the mystery unravels.

Shapstik Verdict: Mysterious, funny and chilling, Gone Girl is easily one of the best films of the year. Not since Zodiac has Fincher delivered such a dark film, and not since Seven has one felt quite so interrogative of the human condition. Strangely addictive whilst sometimes uncomfortable to hear and see, Fincher delivers an astute lesson in character depth and one that I cannot recommend enough. 9/10